Sole Survivor

Day Thirty-Nine

I slowly come out of my sleepy haze, but keep my eyes closed. It's warm already, and I suspect I've slept in quite a bit later than usual. I stretch and feel around for Malfoy, but he's not next to me. I slowly open my eyes and look around, finding myself all alone in the shelter.

After a massive stretch, I get up quickly, eager to tell Malfoy about the weird dream I'd had the night before. I hop out of the shelter and walk around the side. There's Malfoy, sitting next to the fire, with a couple of large fish cooking over the flames. His head is down, and he's drawing in the sand with a stick.

"Hey. Good morning."

He looks up. "Good morning, although at this point it may not still be morning. I was just about to wake you up."

"How long have you been up?"

"Not long, an hour or so maybe. Just long enough to catch some fish and start cooking. I slept in too, after all that late night excitement."

"I … what?" I think about it for a second. "Oh, no, I thought that was a dream."

"Nope." He holds up the stick he was using to draw in the sand, and on a second glance, I can tell it's half of his broken wand. I suck in a breath and sit down next to him.

"I'm sorry," I whisper. I can see something shriveled and dark green inside the broken end. I'd always figured his wand for a core of dragon heartstring. "Can it be …?"

He shakes his head and whispers back, "No, it's too late." I suspected as much already, seeing the core of his wand. The heartstring looked dead. Of course, he could always buy a new wand, but I understood the emotional attachment to this, his first and only wand.

We eat the fish and spend a leisurely day on the beach. The producers remind us that if we want to, we can burn the camp. Neither of us has the urge. Everyone on the staff seems to be giving us a respectful distance, undoubtedly because of the trauma from the night before.

We go for a last swim in the ocean, then a last swim under the waterfall. We don't say much to each other for most of the day, but it's a comfortable silence.

In the late afternoon, I go for a walk down the beach to my favorite rock and sit down for a while. I look out over the water, thinking about the last few weeks. Eventually I notice that I've been fidgeting with Malfoy's ring, still on my right hand. I pull it off and turn it over, looking at the delicately woven grasses and the tiny seashell on top.

After a long pause, I slide it onto the ring finger of my left hand.

The sun follows its track across the sky, slowly inching its way toward the horizon. Malfoy comes over and stands quietly next to me.

"Time to go?"

He draws in a deep breath. "Almost. We should get ready."

"You know what? I know I'm tired of it now, but I already know I'm going to miss this place horribly."

"Well, you …" Malfoy hesitates, then puts a hand gently on my shoulder. "We can always come back here someday."

I can feel a burning behind my eyes, and I know that if I can't get control of myself, I'm going to blubber like a baby. I take a few deep breaths and manage to hold back the tears.

I climb down off the rock, and we slowly go back to our campsite. We pack our few belongings, and I see Malfoy gently tuck the two pieces of his broken wand into his pocket, the expression on his face almost heartbreaking. We each take a torch and slowly make our final trip to the Tribal Council area.

o – o – o – o – o – o – o – o – o – o

We sit down next to each other on our side of the fire, Malfoy on my left, and they film the members of the jury entering a couple of times. As we wait for the cameramen to get different angles, and the production staff herds the jurors out again, I put my left hand on his knee. He smiles at me, and I smile back. Then I glance down toward my hand, look back at him, and wink.

He has a puzzled expression on his face, which grows more perplexed as he looks down at my hand. It takes a minute before realization hits him, and he notices where I have his ring.

He brings his head back up, and the look in his eyes is so beautiful, I feel like crying again. He leans his head toward me, so we can whisper.

"Does this mean …?"

"Yes. It means yes." I look around. The jury is back out of the Tribal Council area, and everyone is concentrating on their cameras or equipment. I lean further in and give him a gentle kiss. I pull back, and the delight on his face is wonderful.

"I … maybe I should change my name." He grins. "Granger is a last name you know you can trust."

A voice makes us both look up. "All right, ladies and gentlemen," shouts Larry the producer. "This is the last entrance of the jury, then we'll continue with the council."

The members of the jury file in and take their seats again. I scan their faces – some neutral, some smiling, and Kiki grinning at me like a fool. But none of them seem to be looking at us with malice, something I'd grown to expect with Simon Parkinson on the jury. It's a nice change, but I realize that soon, once we get back to the outside world, we'll have to deal with similar attitudes from all sorts of people on both sides. Perhaps most of the world won't be hell-bent on killing one or both of us, but there will certainly be quite a few negative feelings. But knowing that we'll be facing them together, and that at the very least we'll be supported by He Who Saved the World, one Mister Harry Potter, makes it seem hardly daunting at all.

Marcus drones on for the cameras as I look at everyone around us, giving us his traditional final-council speech. Malfoy and I can each speak, the jurors can question us, and then they'll cast their votes.

I look over the jury – Franklin, Toby, Carla and Sheryl were all Malfoy's teammates, while Chet, Ellen and Kiki were on my team. Malfoy has the advantage here, and unless he screws up horribly during the question session, he'll probably win.

I feel his hand on mine, and we wind our fingers together. Marcus tells us it's time to start, and that I get to go first with my speech. I look into Draco Malfoy's eyes and see all the support I could ever need. He squeezes my hand, and I stand to address the jury.

No matter which way the vote goes, we've both already won.